Being in Business is Hard.

Everyone has heard the success and failure statistics. Ice Miller is committed to helping its clients make it to the success side of the equation.
Although small businesses continually face the monumental challenge of breaking into markets dominated by large companies with well-established track records, private companies and governmental entities recognize the benefits reaped from a diverse workforce and diverse supplier base. This recognition has created a demand for diversity, which creates an opportunity for small businesses if the business is certified either as a minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged business, or small disadvantaged business enterprise.
Ice Miller has experience assisting small business owners achieve certification as a minority business enterprise, women-owned business enterprise, and disadvantaged business enterprise, or as a small disadvantaged business enterprise. Ice Miller also has experience in structuring supplier diversity programs and locating certified or certifiable companies for corporate clients.
What is a Qualifying Business?
Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).
"Minority business enterprises" are at least 51 percent minority owned and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by at least one minority owner. The term "minority" in this context includes persons who are African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans or Native Americans.
Women Business Enterprise (WBE).
"Women business enterprises" are at least 51 percent owned by a woman and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by at least one woman business owner.
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).
"Disadvantaged business enterprises" are at least 51 percent owned by a disadvantaged individual and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by at least one disadvantaged individual who owns the business. An individual is considered disadvantaged if the individual meets certain net worth requirements. The term "disadvantaged individuals" includes African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, or other minorities that have been found to be disadvantaged.
Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SDBE).
"Small disadvantaged businesses enterprises" are those that also meet certain size requirements established by the Small Business Administration. The applicable size requirements may be based either on gross annual revenue or number of employees.
What Benefits Does a Business Get From Certification?
Certification provides businesses with many benefits, including:
  • Competitive positioning to access the federal procurement system;
  • Inclusion in procurement and service provider lists that are readily accessible by entities seeking qualified MBE, WBE, DBE or SDBEs; and
  • Enhances the ability to provide goods or services to private industries and government agencies with defined and established goals in this area.
How Can Ice Miller Help?
Ice Miller works with businesses to obtain and maintain certifications as minority, women, disadvantaged, and small disadvantaged business enterprises. Ice Miller can structure your business in a manner consistent with certification guidelines, and navigate your business through the certification application or appellate process which can be fraught with pitfalls.
Certification Process Pitfalls.
Ice Miller is experienced in guiding businesses through the various land mines that could destroy or delay the business's eligibility for certification. Let's face it, time is money. Early legal advice pays dividends in the long run. An incomplete application can substantially increase the amount of time it takes to obtain a certification and, worst case scenario, can result in the denial of the application. A business whose certification application is ultimately denied generally must wait nine months to one year before it is eligible to reapply for certification. Therefore, seeking legal advice from experienced attorneys makes good business sense. Legal counsel can recommend a business structure that meets certification requirements and recommend the most appropriate certification for your unique circumstances. Legal counsel also can recommend measures in which your business may maintain required certification standards.
Some of the common mistakes made by businesses desiring certification include:
  • The ownership or involvement of spouses, parents, siblings, or children in the business;
  • The method and amount of capital contributions, the structure of the company, the composition of the board of directors, the voting structure of the company; or
  • The level of expertise and day-to-day involvement of the primary owners, the provisions of the organizational documents, outside employment or other business ventures of the primary owner(s), and the amount of control exercised by non-minority or male (in the case of a woman owned business) owners or employees.
How the Ice Miller Team Works.
The Ice Miller certification group has worked with women and minority clients to establish a new company for the purpose of seeking certification. Ice Miller has assisted some clients in locating potential investors and establishing strategic alliances or joint ventures so the new company is well positioned to seek certification.
  • At the outset, we work with clients to establish and structure a new or existing business in compliance with the certification guidelines of the state of Indiana, the city of Indianapolis, the Indiana Regional Minority Supplier Development Council, the Small Business Administration or any other applicable certifying agency.
  • Our professionals guide clients through the certification process, which may reduce the length of time necessary to obtain a certification.
  • If certification is granted, Ice Miller continues to work with the businesses to maintain their certification status. Ice Miller has, on numerous occasions, commenced representation of clients after the denial of a certification application in appealing that adverse decision.

Our attorneys work for and with you, not without you, to maneuver through the certification process. The certification group's attorneys are diverse in background and experience. Ice Miller has several attorneys and paralegals in the certification group, including:

  • Lacy Johnson, who worked for the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Lottery, and is currently the vice president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board; and
  • Myra C. Selby, the first African American and first woman to serve as a justice on the Indiana Supreme Court.
Our team's varied backgrounds allow us to approach each client's challenges with diverse and unique perspectives and to provide well-rounded solutions.


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